This Saturday, the women’s fencing team upset last season’s No. 7 Northwestern 16–11 at the Penn Elite Invitational for the first time in over 10 years.
Yale concluded its first tournament of the season with three victories — one against Northwestern and two blowouts against Johns Hopkins and New Jersey Institute of Technology. The Bulldogs’ three losses included one to Notre Dame, 20–7, and narrow 15–12 defeats to University of North Carolina and Temple. Their triumph over Northwestern came a day after the death of teammate Rae Na Lee ’19, who died Friday morning.
“We felt the importance of this matchup and fenced and cheered accordingly; my voice is still sore,” epee Lucy Friedmann ’19 said. “I would attribute this strong showing to our team’s spectacular synergy. We all fenced well and supported each other in such a way that allowed us to come out on top.”
Yale’s victory against Northwestern — the first time the Elis broke the double-digit threshold against the Wildcats in the current decade — also featured great overall team play from all three squads. The foil and saber contests started out the meet with good showings, giving epee room to work with. Nearing the end of the matchup, with three bouts to go, the Bulldogs needed only one to clinch a win. Epee was able to come out on top in their bout first, securing a Yale victory to raucous cheers from the rest of the team. However, the Elis did not let up there, also winning the final two bouts to defeat the Wildcats by a margin of five.
Yale also defeated Johns Hopkins 19–8 and the New Jersey Institute of Technology 23–4, respectively.
The weekend also included strong performances by multiple Bulldog fencers. Saber fencer Joanna Lew ’17 beat Notre Dame’s Francesca Russo, the 2015 NCAA Women’s Saber Champion. Following that, Friedmann earned a 5–3 victory over Safa Ibrahim of Temple, a two-time NCAA Championships participant and defending Garret Open winner.
“We have an especially strong team this year, and perhaps even more importantly, it’s very well balanced,” captain and epee fencer Katherine Miller ’17 said. “I’m extremely proud of how hard every single person fought and how we all maintained our focus until the very end.”
Saturday also marked the first appearance for three of Yale’s four freshmen: Michelle Nam ’20, Sam Wood ’20 and Anna Zhou ’20. The two starters, Zhou and Nam, fenced well, with Zhou going 12–6 on the weekend and Nam scoring 10–6 in her initial outing. Though the fourth member of the class, Michelle Li ’20, will also be a starter, she did not compete this weekend as she was at her high school graduation.
While the Elis usually begin their season in December with the Brandeis Invitational, this early November opener has forced the Bulldogs to bump up its practice schedule.
“Our team has been training hard thanks to the help of our two new assistant coaches,” foil Zhou said. “We have been working on cardio every day in practice, which then allowed us to be able to keep a high energy level throughout the tournament.”
Yale, which finished 17th in the NCAA Championships last year, will look to take its solid start into the rest of the season and improve upon last year’s standings. According to Miller, she believes this team could be the strongest in her four years at Yale.
The Bulldogs will appear next at their alumni tournament, the Dernell Every Open next Saturday Nov. 12. Their next dual meet will be at the Brandeis Invitational in December.
Correction, Nov. 8: A previous version of this article misstated the score of Yale’s matches against UNC and Temple as well as the number of freshmen Yale started.